Justin Bieber and Bibi: A meeting canceled by Israeli politics

Why Justin Bieber won't be meeting Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The pop singer is in Israel for one of his, 'My World' tour stops, but finds himself ensnared in politics and paparazzi.

Thibault Camus/AP
Canadian singer Justin Bieber performs on stage in Paris, for his, 'My World' tour, taken on Tues. March 29.

Justin Bieber, a pop singing sensation, is not Israel's first celebrity visitor to find himself unexpectedly snared in Israeli politics.

Bieber is in Israel on his "World Tour," and scheduled to do a concert Thursday. But he arrived Sunday to do a bit of sightseeing in the Holy Land. And, according to Israeli media, Bieber's staff approached Israel's prime minister's office about a meeting.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (nicknamed Bibi) invited some school children from Sderot, a town often targeted by Palestinian militants with rocket attacks. A perfect photo op: Bieber and Bibi and his long-suffering Israeli teen fans?

Bieber - or his handlers - balked at being drawn into a political event. Or, maybe Bibi canceled on Bieber, when he expressed reservations.

"We never asked to meet with [Netanyahu], nor has anyone connected with us asked to meet him," Bieber manager Scooter Braun, ­ a vocally pro-Israel American Jew, told The Jerusalem Post.

Either way, the Bieber-Bibi meeting is off, according to both sides.

Bieber isn't the first celebrity to wrestle with local politics. A year ago, rock singer Elvis Costello canceled two summer concerts planned for Israel. Costello was making a political statement about Israeli policies toward Palestianians, and followed similar cancellations by spoken-word jazz performer Gil Scott-Heron and guitar legend Carlos Santana.

Gadi Yaron, Bieber’s Israeli concert promoter told Israel Army Radio, “There is heavy pressure on artists not to come to Israel," they seem to be trying to change the view of boycotting the Jewish state. “We are working very hard so they will visit Israel, get to know it, and won’t view it as a political place.’’

Meanwhile, Bieber has been tweeting about a less-than-satisfying visit. Apparently, the paparazzi in Israel are more aggressive than elsewhere in the world.

"You would think paparazzi would have some respect in holy places. All I wanted was the chance to walk where Jesus did here in Israel ... people wait their whole lives for opportunities like this, why would they want to take that experience away from someone."

The Jerusalem Post reports that Elton John fled the country to avoid the swarming photographers and actor Jim Carrey hired a look-alike to hang out at his hotel while Carrey snuck out the back to go sightseeing.

Justin Bieber is now reportedly taking it easy in his hotel room for the rest of his visit. He tweets "patience is a virtue."

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